Archive for March, 2015

“Methuselah” Palm Grown From 2,000-Year-Old Seed Is a Father

Publication: National Geographic   Date: March 24, 2015   View Article

A male date palm tree named Methuselah that sprouted from a 2,000-year-old seed nearly a decade ago is thriving today, according to the Israeli researcher who is cultivating the historic plant.

The plant was sprouted in a laboratory in 2005, and when a National Geographic news story about the event resurfaced this week on the social media website Reddit, we decided to check in on Methuselah and see how it’s doing.

“He is a big boy now,” says Elaine Solowey, the director of the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies at Kibbutz Ketura in Israel.

Many in U.S. Face Another Dry Year as World Water Day Arrives

Publication: NBC News   Date: March 22, 2015   View Article

It’s a thirsty nation.

From California to the Pacific Northwest to swaths of Texas and Oklahoma, farmers, ranchers and just about anybody with a lawn or a pool are bracing for what’s expected to be another dry year.

Historically low snowpack in the mountains along the West Coast has heightened concern about drought. Ski areas from California to Washington have cried uncle after months of trying to keep slopes open. And water resource managers are busy making plans to deal with low river flows. For many in the U.S., World Water Day on March 22 is that in name only.

More Fuel-Efficient Jets Could Lead to Passenger Nirvana

Publication: NBC News   Date: March 4, 2015   View Article

Want more legroom, more direct flights, and less time stuck in holding patterns? It could be coming to airline passengers, but at a price: higher fares.

Regulators are moving along with targets intended to push commercial airlines to slash their emissions of carbon dioxide not by stuffing more of us onto the existing fleet, but by targeting the underlying issue of aircraft fuel efficiency. That will mean new, fuel-efficient airplanes, an upgrade that could come with creature comforts such as more legroom and state-of-the-art inflight entertainment.

But integrating new airplanes into existing fleets and upgrading technology will cost money, which may lead to higher fares, noted Vera Pardee, a San Francisco-based attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity, one of several environmental groups that are pushing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to regulate airline greenhouse gas emissions.

As Ocean Becomes Killing Field, Fish We Eat Dwindle

Publication: NBC News   Date: March 3, 2015   View Article

Over the past century, the biomass of predatory fish in the world’s oceans has declined by about two thirds, according to fisheries scientists. In the voids left by the cod, halibut, salmon, and tuna are increasing populations of forage fish, which are short-lived and vulnerable to environmental change such as ocean waters that are warming and becoming more acidic in response to global climate change.

“What this doesn’t boil down to is the sea is suddenly full of sardines and anchovies and other small things that we like to eat,” Villy Christensen, an ecosystem modeler at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada, said. “It is to a large extent small fish that we don’t eat that have benefited; because sardines and anchovies, those are fisheries … we keep fishing those.”

California Drought Linked to Human-Caused Warming: Study

Publication: NBC News   Date: March 2, 2015   View Article

In parched California, rainfall patterns are essentially the same as they were 120 years ago, but humans have made it warmer and that added heat is driving the state’s crippling drought, according to a new study. Warm temperatures dry out soils and cause precipitation to fall as rain rather than snow, thus reducing annual snowpack essential for irrigation, for example. What snow does fall then melts earlier in the spring.

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